copywriting, editing, productivity, storytelling, writing tips

How to be productive in this DISGUSTING heat wave

This summer has been a new level of mean. The teasing way it throws us a ‘cool change’ for five minutes before blasting us with a super powered wave of heat for four more days is just mean. Like many Australians, I have no air conditioning, and my goodness, it has been a struggle to will myself to concentrate. On the one hand, the excruciating heat sends me momentarily into states of mild hallucinations, giving me some hilarious and awesome ideas for my creative writing. On the other hand, I have a permanent and thick layer of revolting sweat pasted over my entire body, the motivation to sit down and be productive is at a scary low point. Procrastination has become a real and stunning art form.

I can’t possibly sit down at the computer – it’s letting off heat, I’ll pass out

Of course, this is the best time to attempt to make homemade ice cream for the first time, without the right equipment

This fan isn’t doing anything, perhaps if I fiddle with the settings for another fifteen minutes, the air will suddenly cool and relieve me from this fire

I’ll just have a quick shower to cool down

The list goes on and on.Don’t get me wrong, I procrastinate with the best of them even when I am not covered in a layer of sweaty grime. But this whole heat wave has really reminded me how much I need to trick my brain out of its wildly imaginative coma. And write!

Don’t get me wrong, I procrastinate with the best of them even when I am not covered in a layer of sweaty grime. But this whole heat wave has really reminded me how much I need to trick my brain out of its wildly imaginative coma. And write!

The key seems to be not too much at once

The prospect of hitting your 1000/2000/5000-word goal on a day like today can be wildly daunting. I mean sitting in one spot for that long in this blinding heat is a terrifying thought. Forget about your word count – give yourself a time limit.

I have found with my writing, as odd as it is to flip in and out of the imaginary world I have created, giving myself a time limit has led to more writing days than anything else. 30 minutes is nothing. Grabbing the laptop while the toddler is hurling his rice around the kitchen and knocking out a few paras has produced some of my better work. The reason? I think partly it’s because I am not overthinking things. I have my time limit, I have my distractions, but I also have my commitment.

Create little games for yourself

When you run a household that includes small humans the excuses for not making time for yourself come in waves. We forget that we are better parents, partners and human beings when we are healthy mentally and physically. That means committing to the stuff.

When I exercise, I like to trick myself into doing more with funny little mind games. When swimming laps, for example, I’ll count backwards and only half the time. Somehow, 80 laps become 20 in my head. Works every time. I know! When it comes to concentrating in this heat I find myself doing the same thing.

I’ll give myself limits to reach and then just before I reach them, like my own little PT I extend it, by just enough that my conscious self doesn’t realise. Odd yes, but oh so very productive.

Mix it up

Being stuck in one place for too long in this heat can just make things a little unbearable. Move around. Take the laptop to a café for a coffee, write in your living room or get out the old quill and parchment and write something down. It’s another little game I play. I think I am procrastinating, and yet at the end of the day, I have produced work.

Make your own homemade ice cream – seriously, it’s so tasty

I’m not even joking. This heat makes our minds turn to mush. Creating environments that force us to be creative can be just the jump start you need to get your inner engine working again. I’m not saying it must be ice cream, although with this weather it kills multiple birds.

Sometimes a little procrastination is all you need

I know, I know I am a proud card-carrying procrastinator. But I genuinely think it can be helpful sometimes. Rather than berate myself because I spent the morning creating tasty and refreshing treats instead of writing, I could embrace the refreshing break and use it to inspire myself back to the keyboard. Yes, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of inspiring tales on Reddit or bored panda, but you know what? Sometimes it’s that random Redditor that inspires you to find that hook you’ve been fighting to discover all week.

Writing prompts

Do it! It’s not cheating – it’s a bloody excellent tool. You can’t ride a bike without pedals and you can’t write quality without the right inspiration. That can come anywhere. Use prompts and use them often. You never know what could come from them. On that note, watch this space for some upcoming prompts and ideas that I have found fantastic.

They all say it but seriously, it works – write a little every day.

content marketing, freelancing, storytelling, writing tips

Training your brain – how I found more hours in the day

A friend and I have conducted a little experiment over the last few months. The results were pretty eye-opening. I wrote the first draft of a novel. Yep, an entire novel. She has found time in her days to focus on her creative writing in a way she hasn’t done for years.

It may not be new to all, but for two young mothers, of boisterous and energetic toddlers, we are pretty proud of ourselves. The cool thing is we have realised it doesn’t have to be confined to writing. I want to give you just a teaser of the program we mapped out for ourselves that changed our perspective, our time management and our motivation.

Lamenting the time away

It is so very easy to stubbornly declare that there is no time. How could I possibly fit that in when I have a child, a job, a relationship? Yet somehow we all still manage to keep abreast of our favourite TV show. Why? Because they exist in 30-40 minute increments.

We went through this exact process. Wildly jealous and awed by the friends we have writing books, composing symphonies and running businesses on the side, we were caught up in our own lives and the excuses we created every day. How do they do it? They must never sleep. They must never see their children. They mustn’t have jobs.

We couldn’t possibly fit anything else in we lamented.

And then it dawned on me

While engrossed in the latest episode of Once Upon a Time (yes, I genuinely enjoy it), my thoughts were racing. My protagonist has that trait. Ooh, my bad guy could have a similar back story. My plot would be different for these reasons. If only I had the time to explore them. Then my rambunctious two-year-old would bound into the room, ready for some drawing and train track building. Yet, I claimed to be a writer? A creative?

Naturally, I had to complain to my equally time-poor mummy writer pal about this. All the while, logging into the ultimate time vacuum that is the social media. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the socials. I think their value in business and communication as whole is extraordinary. In fact, I will be addressing some of those values in an upcoming blog. But it certainly takes up a LOT of time.

It was amidst these laments that it occurred to me. A realisation that many successful people before me have come to. I don’t really need more time.

One episode at a time

In a world designed to appease the desperate impatience we’ve come to embrace, binge-watching, 24-hour news and instant gratification have become the norm. No longer can we wait week on week for the latest episode of our favourite show. Somewhere along the way, we lost the excitement of anticipation. We lost delicious seduction of a teaser, in favour of an immediate climax.

We’ve come to need that satisfaction now and in full. If we can’t have it all right now, then we don’t want it. This hugely short-sighted attitude is what led me, my friend and many of you to the inaccurate conclusion that we just don’t have time.

As Australian network TV finally catches up and fast tracks a handful of key shows, I have learned, once again the value of patience. I don’t have to write a novel in a day. I don’t need to quit my job and wait for my son to go to school.

An attitude shift

My mummy friend and I realised, that all we needed was 30 minutes. 30 minutes and a little bit of accountability.

The result was unexpected. Naturally, I thought I might achieve a little more if I approached my projects in a different way. What I didn’t expect was such a profound shift in my approach to everything.

About a quarter way through our first experiment, we started to see things we’d never seen before. Time was no longer our master, but rather we channelled the powers of the Doctor and realised we were our own time lords.

I know it hurts but I promise it helps

In a bid to encourage you, dear reader, to change the way you see time and consumption, I am not going to give away everything at once. As much as I would love to minimise the competition, if you’ve got a book, a symphony, a creation of any kind inside, this may just help you pull it out. If you, like us, are impatiently claiming that it is time that steals your great creation, tune in for Part II.